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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History



Scouting Days - by Joyce Bell
Medals for Scout Couple
To Holland to Pursue Esperanto
Peak of Venture Scouting
Andrew is Let Into Secret

See also 1st Knottingley Scout Troop 1909 to 1920 in our
Wartime Memories of Knottingley section



In 1965 at the age of 8 my son Andrew joined the 1st Knottingley St. Botolphs Cub Scouts. The cub akala was Mrs. Clarke. When Mrs. Clarke left, Mr. and Mrs. Eric Fussey took over the pack. As they were friends of my late husband, (Les Bell) and I, Les went along to give them a hand with the boys. After a couple of years when Andrew was ready to join the Scouts, Les decided to join the then Scout Master, the late Arthur Ridge, who was struggling to keep the troop together, as Les could relate to the older boys more than the young ones.

I of course was brought in and we formed a parents committee. From then on we went from strength to strength. Les went on various training courses and eventually became ‘Skip’ Scout Master.

For twenty-six years we held the troop together. The parents committee came and went as the boys grew up. Our sponsors, the vicars, came and went, some with enthusiasm for the troop, some not so. Looking back we had lots of fun and lots of worry. The summer camps where you were either drowned by rain or scorched by the sun, or bitten to death by midges. There were home sick boys, or accident prone boys, soggy sleeping bags and wet tents, ants eating more food than us..ah, happy days.

What the boys enjoyed was the canoeing at Aldwark Bridge (Burrowbridge), two or three times a year. On fine weekends we would load our two canoes on the trailer and make for Aldwark. One year we invited the Dutch Troop from Zeveaar, Holland, to Aldwark, having made friends with them at the Essex Jamboree in the 1970’s.

In 1973 we were invited to Holland for a weeks cam with the Dutch Scouts. Many friendships were formed and some have visited us many times. In 1975, Andrew was chosen to help in the summer Camp of the American Scouts. So off he went from Heathrow Airport to Virginia, USA. While there he had water duties, ie. Swimming boating etc.. The highlight of his six weeks was his Initiation into the Amagamek Wipit Indian Tribe. To qualify, Andrew had to spend 24 hours in silence with only an egg for food, a cup of water, some flint with which to light a fire, cook the egg, then sleep in the open in only a pair of trunks. As the temperature was in the 90’s, it was no hardship. When Andrew returned home he was made a Queens Scout and invited to Windsor Castle for the St. George’s Day Parade.

Another unforgettable event was ‘our own’ venture scouts attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Well they made it and a wonderful film show was given of their travels and ordeals in the Parish Rooms, Knottingley. Les and I have always had great affection for ‘our boys’ as they were the ones we had nurtured from Cubs. Over the years they each have been successful in their chosen careers.

As for my own cub, his vocation was the R.A.F Regiment where he has had a busy and varied life serving in Northern Ireland, Germany, The Falklands, Belize, East Timor and the Gulf War. He is now teaching Defence and Strategic Studies in the Royal New Zealand Air Force in Aucklan, New Zealand where he lives with his wife and two sons, Mark aged 20 and Scott aged 18.

So boys, don’t knock the Scouts, they are a great bunch.

M. J. Bell


Pontefract and Castleford Express, October 31, 1991

Submitted by Mrs Joyce Bell

Mr and Mrs Bell from Ferrybridge

A retired Knottingley couple have been awarded medals for more than fifty years combined service with the scouts. Les and Joyce Bell, of Doncaster Road, joined the 1st Knottingley troop when their eight-year-old son joined the Cubs 27 years ago.  In that time Les, 66, has gone from Cub leader to assistant district commissioner for the Pontefract Scouts Association, a position he still holds.

Groups from throughout the Pontefract area, including Altofts, Featherstone and Knottingley, attended last week's presentation at Cook Hall, headquarters of 1st Pontefract Scouts. County commissioner, Mr. David Digmore, presented the couple with a medal and a certificate for long and distinguished service to the movement.  The Scout Venture Group and Scout Fellowship laid on refreshments.

The couple have no plans to retire and hope to continue helping 1st Knottingley for many years to come.  Mr. Bell is president of the troop.



Pontefract and Castleford Express
Submitted by Mrs Joyce Bell

If Esperanto may sound like double-Dutch, a party of Knottingley Scouts are going to the right place to study it. For the Scouts, who have been studying Esperanto in Pontefract, set off on Tuesday on a camping holiday in Sevanaar and Stokkun, in Holland.  During their stay they are hoping to meet with fellow Esperanto students and the editor of the international Esperanto newspaper.

Mr. G.L. Bell, of 35 Doncaster Road, Ferrybridge, Scout leader and the trip organiser, told the 'Express' the group were invited to camp in Holland by a Dutch troop they met at the Seventh Essex Jamboree last year.  They travelled to Hull where they caught the overnight ferry to Rotterdam.  From there they went by coach to Sevenaar. During their stay the Scouts will visit an open-air museum and spend a day with some Dutch parents.  They are aged between 11 and 18.


Yorkshire Evening Post
Submitted by Mrs Joyce Bell

A group of Knottingley Venture Scouts will be flying out to Tanzania in climb Kilimanjaro. They will spend about a month in the country, climbing the 19,340ft high mountain, and are spending the months leading up to the expedition training very hard indeed. The Venture Scouts taking part are Michael Moorhouse, 20, Ian Bechette, 20, Ian Tuke, 18, and his brother Michael who is 17.  Leading the expedition are John Parkin, Pontefract District Venture Scout leader and Geoffrey Carter, leader of Knottingley Venture Scouts.

The group trains every Wednesday evening at Featherstone Sports Centre, coached by Andy Stacey, as well as going on min expeditions at weekends. They will spend Easter on the Isle of Rum, building up their endurance and recently spent a week in Wales. Seventh member of the team will be Andrew Pearson, 23, who now lives in London but was a member of the Knottingley Venture Scouts.

The Scouts went on an expedition to the Alps in Switzerland last year, and the year before went to Norway.  They are now approaching local firms for sponsorship to help to fund this latest venture.  They will be setting off in August and returning in September.


Pontefract and Castleford Express
Submitted by Mrs Joyce Bell

Out in the wilds of Virginia, USA, a 19 year-old Ferrybridge Scout Leader was initiated into a semi-secret organisation known as the 'Order of the Arrow', based on Indian folklore and legends. Andrew Bell, of Doncaster Road, was serving as a Scout commissioner at an international camp when his troop elected him to become a member of the Order.  At a ceremony in the camp the Chapter Chief ripped open Andrew's shirt and tapped him on the chest.

"This was the sign that I had been chosen to take the tests and become a member" said Andrew. "It may sound amusing to us but the Americans take it very seriously."

To qualify for membership Andrew had to spend 24 hours in silence with only an egg for food.

"I was given a cup of water and some flint," he said.  "I had to light a fire and cook the egg and sleep in the open wearing just a pair of trunks.  As the temperature was 90 to 100 day and night the last task was not hard."

Andrew then had a 24 hour period of service when he painted fences.

"The tests are designed to make you a better Scout," he said.  "When they finished there were celebrations, the main attraction being a group of Indian dancers.  Nobody is allowed to take photographs as the Order is semi-secret in that it doesn't want everyone to know how it works."

Andrew is now a member of the Amagamek Wipit tribe in the Washington area.  If he returns to the camp next year he becomes a member of the Brotherhood and if he attends a third year he becomes a Chapter Representative.

"It depends which university I go to." he said. "If I can get the holidays off I'll be off next year."

He intends to study chemical engineering.  During his eight weeks in the camp at Goshen, Andrew was assistant to the waterfront director, whose speciality was sailing.  Between 200 and 250 Venture Scouts stayed at the camp for a week, with a staff of 24, including Andrew, to supervise. Andrew said he applied to go to the camp after reading an advertisement in a Scouting magazine.  The qualifications needed were to be aged 18 to 35 and have plenty of Scouting experience.  he started in the 1st Knottingley troop, where he is now a Venture Scout, and has 11 years experience.

"Under the American law, we couldn't be paid for our camp work," he said, "so we got a gift of £75 spending money for the eight weeks.  For next year I've been offered a job in which I shall be paid about £380 for my stay."

At camp Andrew was lent a car and had 24 hours and an evening off each week.  On one of his days off he saw his first drive-in movie.

"We travelled nearly 50 miles each way," he said.  "The Americans think nothing of going so far for a night out."

At the end of eight weeks, Andrew, along with 42 other English Scouts, left for a tour of the States, organised by the International Scout Council.

"We were picked up in Washington and spent two nights with families," said Andrew. "We went by bus to York Town, Virginia, where we stopped at an Army base, and from there we went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The party moved on to New Brunswick, New Jersey, where the tour ended with a banquet at which the Scouts received flags and certificates.  In New York we were warned not to go out in groups of less than five and to carry a knife.  During our one night there, three shootings took place in a subway about 300 yards from our hotel.  If I had to live anywhere in the States it would be in Virginia."

While in Virginia however, Andrew did see some violence when a motor-cycle gang arrived in town and caused trouble.

"When the boys got drunk, the locals grabbed them and shaved their heads," he said, "the police did not interfere."

Andrew celebrated his 19th birthday out there with a huge chocolate cake made by the cooks at his camp.  He thoroughly enjoyed the whole visit, which included hunting, fishing and flying - altogether an experience never to be forgotten.


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